Beauty is intense pleasure

  • Datum: 17.01.2020
  • Uhrzeit: 11:15 - 12:15
  • Vortragende(r): Aenne Brielmann
  • Ort: Max-Planck-Ring 8
  • Raum: room 203
  • Gastgeber: Peter Dayan
Beauty is intense pleasure

People spend enormous resources trying to obtain, create, and experience beauty. While philosophers have tried to unravel the phenomenon of beauty for thousands of years, experimental psychology has only just begun to ask what constitutes an experience of beauty. This talk will shed light on what it means to experience beauty, revealing an intimate connection between pleasure and beauty across three studies. The first study quantitatively describes the time course of pleasure during experiences of varying degrees of beauty and of variable durations. We find that pleasure dynamics and its relation to beauty are conserved across stimuli and durations. The second study explores how limiting cognitive capacities impacts the time course of pleasure and the intensity of experienced beauty. Again, we find that the relation between beauty and pleasure is conserved and that a distracting task has the same adverse effect on both. The final study probes the causal link between beauty and pleasure. It demonstrates that the inability to feel pleasure in everyday life, anhedonia, diminishes the intensity of felt beauty. In conclusion, we can understand the experience of beauty as one of intense pleasure. The tight link between beauty and pleasure is independent of stimulus duration, type, and task demands. The intimate connection of beauty and pleasure implies that beauty can act as a driving force of behavior and decisions just like other pleasures. This intuitive idea needs yet to be tested and provides an exciting avenue for future research.

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